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Charlie Rose

News/Business. (2010) George Mitchell, U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East. (CC) (Stereo)

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Israel 34, United States 11, Charlie 11, Northern Ireland 11, George Mitchell 7, Clinton 4, Cairo 4, Jerusalem 4, Iran 3, Syrians 3, Obama 3, Syria 3, Ireland 3, Us 3, Mitchell 2, Bush 2, United States Senate 2, Hezbollah 2, Europe 2, United 2,
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  WHUT    Charlie Rose    News/Business.  (2010) George Mitchell, U.S.  
   Special Envoy to the Middle East. (CC) (Stereo)  

    January 7, 2010
    6:00 - 7:00am EST  

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>> rose: welcome to the broadcast. tonight an exclusive conversation with america's envoy to the middle east, former senator george mitchell. do you have a hard time with the perception on the one hand that we are not an innocent broker? >> oh, i hear ate lot but i don't believe it to be true. >> rose: do you have to speak to it? >> oh, sure, yes, i do. gularly. here in the united states, in europe and in the middle east. that assertion is based on the assumption that the united states cannot at the same time be totally committed to israel's security-- which we are-- and be totally committed to the creation of the palestinian state-- which we are.
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and i believe that those are not mutually exclusive. to the contrary, that i believe they are mutually reinforcing. it will help israel get security for its people if the palestinians have a state and this issue is over. >> rose: george mitchell for the hour. next. if you've had a coke in the last 20 years, ( screams ) you've had a hand in giving college scholarships... and support to thousands of our nation's... most promising students. ♪ ( coca-cola 5-note mnemonic )
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: george mitchell is here. he is president obama's special envoy to the middle east, the former maine senator and majority leader has a proven record of brokering agreements. he chaired the peace talks in northern ireland that lead to the historic good friday agreement of 1998. in 2000, he lead presidential commission to tend cycle of violence between palestinians and israelis. his new mission is to advance president obama's commitment to comprehensive peace in the middle east. he has spent the past year trying to get palestinians and israelis back to the negotiating table. many say the administration's early focus on a complete settlement freeze led to the current stalemate. senator mitchell is returning to
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the region this month and i am pleased to have him at this table at this time. so welcome. >> thanks, charlie. >> rose: great to see you. >> you, too. >> rose: wt's the mood over there about the possibilities in a few year? >> i think there's more optimism there than here but you have to temper it with the reality of the difficulty, the complexity, the length of the conflict. i'll be going back in the next few days and my slope that we can make progress on three tracks, which is the effort that we've been making under the direction of the president and the secretary of state. first political negotiations to get the paies into meaningful negotiations that will produce a peace agreement. secondly, security to make certain that any agreement ensures the security of the people of israel and the palestinian people and the surrounding states. and third, economic growth and what we call institutional efforts to help the palestinians improve their economy and to
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encourage the current prime minister-- an impressive person, salaam fayed-- who is trying to build from the ground up the institutions of governance that will be able to govern effectively on day one of the palestinian state. >> rose: they also call that bottom-up. >> bottom-up/top-down. >> rose: are the israelis supportive of that? >> yes, they are. they've taken steps in the west bank to reduce the number of checkpoints and roadblocks. to facilitate access, movement, and commerce. there's a long way to go, obviously, for the palestinians it's not enough, for the israelis it's a lot and we keep working with both sides in an effort to improve it. but the palestinian economy will show significant growth this year. obviously from a low base, but nonetheless improving. their security forces are outstanding by any measure, the israelis are very, very open in their praise of the effort that's been made on palestinian security. what we want to do is to make
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certain that when the palestinian state is established as a result of meaningful political negotiations, there is from the first day the capacity to govern effectively and we support prime minister fayed's efforts in that regard. >> rose: there is this impression reflected in the "new york times" editorial that the past year has not been successful because the administration stressed a settle freeze. >> charlie, a little over a year ago... before i knew... had any idea that i would be asked to take this job i was in israel and i gave a speech at the university and the question i was asked about northern ireland and in my answer i pointed out that the peace agreement in northern ireland came 800 years after the british domination of ireland began. after the speech, a group of people gathered around. you know how it is, when you speak people want to shake your hand, ask you other questions, make comments. an elderly gentleman came up to me, hard of hearing, said? a loud voice, he said "senator
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mitchell, did you say 800 years?" i said "yes, 800 years." he repeated aga in a very loud voice "800 years? " i said "yes." he waved his hand, he said "no wonder you settled such a recent argument." >> rose: (laughs) >> those are thgs, an issue that's gone on longer than 800 years is going to be resolved in a few months and if we only take this step or that step, really i think our misperceiving the complexity... >> rose: but the argument goes ngor this idea. by focusing on a settlement freeze-- which israelis were unlikely to agree to-- you created disappointment from the beginning. because it was an unachievable objective. >> all you have to do is go back and read the papers over the past five or six years to see that it was not the obama administration or the secretary of state or i who suggested a settlement freeze in this instance. every arab country-- including
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the palestinians, 13 of whom i visited before we began substantive discussions with the israelis-- said that there would not be any steps unless there was a freeze. secondly, you've been in a lot of negotiations. if you want to get 60%, do you begin by asking for 60%? >> rose: no, you ask for 100%. >> there you go, charlie, you've already figured out negotiations! >> rose: (laughs) so what we got was a moratorium, ten months, far less than what was requested but more significant than any action taken by any previous government of israel for the 40 years that settlement enterprise has existed. ten months of "no new starts" in the west bank. less than what we asked, much, much greater than any prior government has done. and we think over time it's going to make a significant difference on the ground. >> rose: and you and secretary clinton praised prime minister netanyahu for agreeing to that.
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>> yes. >> rose: it does not include a jerusalem. there've been announcement in the last 48 hours of new settlement construction in east jerusalem where the palestinians want to make their capital. >> yes. >> rose: and it's in the midst of palestinians. >> if you go back over time and look at camp david and the prior efforts, you will see that the single most difficult issue amidst an array of extremely difficult issues iserusalem. and it is very complicated, difficult, emotional on all sides. jerusalem is significant to the three monotheistic religions-- christianity, judaism, islam. it's important to everybody. we recognize that. and we try to deal with it. but understand the different perspectives. israel anexted jerusalem in 1980. >> rose: "anext" is an important word. >> annex is a very important
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word. no other country including the united states recognizes that annexization. neither do the palestinians. but for the israelis, what they're building in is part of israel. the others don't see it that way. so you have these widely divergent perspectives on the subject. our view is let's get into negotiations. let's deal with the issues and come up with the solution to all of them including jerusalem which will be exceedingly difficult but many my judgment possible. the israelis are not going to stop settlements in... or construction in east jerusalem. they don't regard that as a settlement because they think it's part of israel. >> rose: people recognize the annexation. how many count please? >> to the best of my knowledge, there aren't any. immediately after the annexation the united nations... >> rose: so you're going to let them go ahead even though no one recognizes the annexation. >> you say "let them go ahead."
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it's what they regard as their country. they don't say they're letting us go ahead when we build in manhattan. >> rose: but don't international rules have something to do with what somebody can do to define as their country. >> there are disputed legal issues. of that there can be no doubt. and we could spend the next 14 years arguing over disputed legal issues or we can try to get a negotiations to resolve them in a manner that meets the aspirations of both societies. keep this in mind: the israelis have a state, a very successful state. they want security, which they ought to have. >> rose: most important to them. >> most important to them. the palestinians don't have a state. they want one. and they ought to have one. we believe that neither can attain its objective by denying to the other side its objective. the palestinians are not going to get a state until the people of israel have a reasonable sense of sustainable security. the israelis, on the other hand, are not going to get that
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reasonable sense of sustainable security until there is a palestinian state. anso we think rather than being mutually exclusive, they're mutually reinforcing. and we think both sides would be better off to get into a negotiation, to try to achieve the peace agreement that in my heart and soul cybill possible. difficult and complex as it may be. >> rose: why do you believe it's possible? >> because it's in the best interest of the people on both sides. >> rose: it's been in their best interest for a long time. >> despite the horrific events of the past half century, all of the death, all of the destruction, all of the mistrust and all of the hatred, a substantial majority on both sides still believes that's the way to resolve the problem. and you say it's ban that way for a long time. it has been. but i believe with all... with everything i have that that there's no such thing as a conflict that can't be ended. conflicts are created, they're conducted, they're sustained by
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human beings, they can be ended by human beingsnd i believe this one can be ended and i think it will be ended. >> rose: and do you have a time frame for it? two years? >> we they the negotiation should last no more than two years. we think it can be done within that period of time. we hope the parties agree. personally i think it can be done in a shorter period of time. >> rose: the big question going into this is the israelis say we want no determined borders. palestinians say no, no, we want the '67 borders as where we start from. how do you get past the problem of where the negotiion about borders starts? >> secretary of state clinton made a statement just recently in which she set forth the positions of the two sides and expressed the view-- which i strongly hold-- that through negotiations those can be reconciled. and the palestinian view is that you should start with the '67 lines with agreed swaps. both sides understand it's not
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going to be the '67... >> rose: so settlements will have made a difference in terms of the way the final borders are determined. >> there's no doubt about that and i think that's a fairly universal understanding of that. that's just a reality that's going to have to be dealt. with you can ask wishfully this thingsight be as you would like them to be or you deal with them as they are and i think we have to deal with them as they are. but there will be adjustments with swaps and what i believe is that we can get an agreement on that once we get them into negotiations. i think here, charlie, the harder part is getting started than getting finished. >> rose: how are you going to sell abbas on the idea that even though you've said you will never negotiate as long as there's no fe zone settlements i'm asking you to negotiate. >> one thing i learned in northern ireland is you don't take the first no as a final answer. >> rose: yes. >> nor the second no. nor the hundredth no. nor the second hundredth no.
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you have to keep at it. charlie, i was in northern ireland for five years. i chaired three separate sets of discussions. the maybe negotiation lasted 22 months. for 700 days one side said "we will never agree to new institutions between north and south ireland." the other side said for 700 days "we will never agree to a new northern ireland assembly." and on the 701st first day they both agreed to what they said they wouldn't agree to. now, obviously, we have great respect for president abbas. we think he and prime minister fayed represent strong and effective leadership for the palestinian people and are the ones that we think are going to produce a palestinian state. but our effort is to persuade them that the best way to achieve that objective is to get into negotiations and perhaps there are some other things that can be done that they will regard as positive and as a
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sufficient basis to get into the discussions. >> rose: you've said one of the lessons of northern ireland is you never take away the party's dreams. they've had a dream that will be like they passionately have wanted. it will not be that way but they have to go into it believing it might be possible. >> that's right. it's very important for every individual human being and societies to have dreams, what i call aspirations. to have meaningful goals that you reach for and the way to make progress is aim hig, make a meaningful effort and make steady progress towards your goal. and waiting around for the perfect solution to come floating down from heaven usually doesn't produce any progress at all. >> rose: now everything you've said we've known and wise supreme known for a long time. you have to believe in this, you
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have to negotiate, you have to talk. but you need to have concrete action. somebody's got to do something that encourages th other person to do something. who's prepared to do something to encourage the other to do something? >> well, you have several things. first, the israelis have taken steps. >> rose: the moratorium. >> the moratorium is significant. they've reduced roadblocks. they've reduced some checkpoints. they're encouraging economic growth. palestinians are making very significant steps. until the last couple of years, the principle problem where from their side was the absence of security and the absence-- the complete absence-- of any effort to restrain those who were engaged in violence against israelis. that was the israelis' angle. we don't have a partner. they're not doing anything about the terrorists and the violence. you now have a ghoovt is doing something actively, aggressively successfully as the israelis acknowledged so both sides have moved quite a way.
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not enough to satisfy the other. each of them has got a long list of things they want the other side to do and our effort is to get them together to start moving in that direction. you have one other thing, charlie, which i want to comment on. you have a president and a secretary of state who are completely and totally and personally committed to this objective who are very deeply involved and i believe that's going to make a difference. >> rose: somehow that different from previous administrations? >> because at least the last two administrations, the effort began late in the administration. the annapolis process, which which president bush and secretary rice deserve credit didn't begin until toward the end of the president's term. this president began 48 hours after taking office. he appointed know this position to days after he was sworn in as president and you know what he said? he said "i want you go over there tonight." i said "mr. president, i've got a wife and kids, i don't have any clothes with me, i have to go home and tell them i'm going to leave."
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i had to go home far day to get ready to-to-go. he was anxious from the first to get into it. >> rose: okay, but tell me... since the moment he said that to you and the moment that you prepare next week to be back there, things are better or worse? >> oh, they're much better. look, when he said that to me in january of 2009, there had just come to an end the fierce conflict gaza. there was no prospect of any discussion, no possibility of any negotiation. israel had an election coming up in two weeks, they didn't even have a government that we could talk to. we didn't begin substantive discussions with the current israeli government until may. >> rose: what have we done that's made a difference? >> i think a huge difference. the president went to cairo, delivered a speech that i think will go down in the history books and transform dramatically... let me finish. american views, views toward america and americans throughout the region and we've now
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undertaken the initiative that we've started, the points i made earlier which i won't repeat in the interest of your time and the viewers' time about what we're trying to get done. the president has been over there several times, the secretary has been there many times. i've been there every month just about since i took this position. so we're making an intense effort to demonstrate that we are committed to this process. let me make clear. >> when we get into a negotiation, we're going to be involved in an active, sustained and determined way to try to encourage the parties to reach what i believe is an agreement that is possible. >> rose: two questions come up. number one, there is an argument made that if you look at when there's been real progress, it was when the united states was not involved, was not engaged. does that argument have merit with you? there >> there has been some progress when the united states was not engaged. >> when the parties themselves had to see in the their interest to do something. >> that's a huge issue and we have to encourage them take greater ownership of the process
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that they're involved in. but let's be clear. while some progress has been made absent direct american involvement, in the end what agreements have been reached were directly the result of american participation at the highest level: camp david involving president carte, president clinton and the jordanian agreement, president clinton and the effort at camp david which didn't quite succeed and what we're going to have to have is continued and active american involvement. and with this president and with this secretary of state i think we're going to have a combination that hasn't been matched in modern history. >> rose: the other side of that is they're saying we need more american involvement and the united states should be doing something to bring together fatah and hamas so that the palestinians spoke with one voice. the prime minister of qatar said that very similar thing in the last three days. >> yes. charlie, one of the things i get
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when i go over there in one here is "you americans are too bossy." in the other ear "we need more american involvement." >> rose: right. and what are you getting from the arab neighbors? >> well,here is, i believe, a strong feeling that the time has come for negotiations to begin. we're getting a lot of encouragement in that regard. what we want from them is to build on the arab peace initiative proposed by the king of saudi arabia in 2002, supported by all of the arab and indeed, muslim... non-arab muslim countries. and to engage with israel in a way that moves toward the full normalization. we don't ask for full normalization now. and i'll give you specific examples. what we want is a parallel process. as the israelis and the palestinians talk in negotiations, israel, the palestinians, and all of the surrounding countries would meet
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to deal with regional issues: energy, water, trade, communications, transport. all of which have been discussed in the past but haven't been brought to full true wigs. and we think the way to move forward is an israeli/palestinian agreement. israel and syria, israel and lebanon and full implementation of the arab peace initiative. that's the comprehensive peace in the region that is the objective set forth by the president and the secretary of state. >> rose: that's the grand bargain. >> that is. >> rose: speaking of the syrians and turkey, is that deal, some israelis going through turkey or the united states going through turkey to deal with the syrians, does it have legs? >> we've tried very hard. i've met with the turkish leadership, including their current foreign minister many times, including in just the last few weeks and we've tried very hard to get the syrians and the israelis to reengage. until now, the syrians want to
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complete the iirect talks through tkey that began in 2008 but ended when the gaza conflict erupted. the israelis prefer immediate and direct negotiations with the syrians, not completing the indirect process through the turks. what we've said to the two sides is we want to facilitate their coming together and i will be goin to both israel and syria on my upcoming visit to try to further this process and we're prepared to do in the many any manner which is success to feel the two sides. so far they have not found a formula that will enable them get into it but we're persisting in that. and we believe that an israel/syria track could operate in parallel with an israeli/palestinian track on discussions. >> rose: the end result of an israeli/syrian track would be syria's recognition of israel? >> yes. peace between the two of them. dramatic changes that we... >> rose: and you think it's possible they can agree on things like borders and golan
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heights and all of those issues? >> yes, i do. >> rose: that you believe? >> i believe that, yes, i do. >> rose: from talking to both sides? >> yes. you know they've come very close in the past and i believe they can do so now. >> rose: and israelis accept that idea that we can give up the golan heights and still be secure. >> they don't accept the idea of giving them up. that's part of the negotiation and, of course, what the syrians don't accept is the idea that they're going to stop providing assistance to hezbollah and hamas and changing their relationship with iran. you're getting into the subject of negotiations now. you can'tsy say to one side "you have to agree in advance to what the other side wants." you've got to get them into a negotiation so they can then reach a mutually advantageou compromise. >> rose: what is it that president abbas wants? >> a viable, independent, geographically contiguous palestinian state baseon the 1967 borderswith mutually agreed swaps of land. >> rose: and what do you say to him that makes him believe that's possible?
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>> well, i say that it is very much in the interest of the palestinian people. that it is possible because i believe that there's a widespread recognition in the region among palestinians and israelis alike that this is in the mutual interest and there are other greater threats in the region. the continue efforted by iran to extend its influence into the gulf region has raised concerns, indeed, alarm among many of the arab states. and the best way... the mechanism by which iran extends its influence in the region-- one mechanism-- is through these conflicts. through support of hezllah, through support of hamas, through some efforts that were made public during one of my visits over there, efforts now in egypt. and if the method by which they are seeking to extend that influence is these conflicts, then the best way to close off
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that alternative, that mechanism for extending influence, is to end the conflicts. to enable the people of the region to recognize the common threat and to act together in unison against that threat rather than disagreeing among themselves. >> rose: how a big a problem is the gaza invasion that took place? >> it was a very serious problem from the standpoint of the reaction of the arabs and the palestinians. >> rose: that's the reason the turks dropped out of being the mediator, is it not? >> well, the mediation ended the moment that the... >> rose: the invasion took place. >> the conflict began. >> rose: are the israelis continuing to engage in embargos and sanctions that prevent the palestinians in the gaza to have some kind of improvement in their life? >> yes. they have not permitted full opening of the crossings. >> rose: do you agree with that? >> i think they would be better off if they reopened the crossings. from their view, they are trying to contain hamas and they are
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trying to maintain the maximum leverage to obtainhe return of the captured soldier. remember now, you have to keep this in mind, charlie. it's a very difficult type of conflict in which people are engaged. when fighters gather in populated areas, when medical and otr facilities are used as military staging areas, to fight these kinds of conflicts in modern times is extremely difficult, particularly with the overwhelming imbalance in fire power that exists. and these are not easy questions to resolve of how do you respond when rockets are sent into your country? >> rose: at the time of the cairo speech, while everybody applauded the speech, everybody else said in the next breath "they're going need to see action. they're going to need to see some actionollowing that aspirational tone that the president set in cairo." >> yes.
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yes. >> rose: and we haven't seen that action. >> well, we are trying, charlie. the question is, do you produce action... >> rose: fair enough. >> within 24 hours, 24 days? there's no doubt that the commitment is there. but, look, about a few weeks after i was appointed this position, i read an article in the paper that said that the united states hadn't come up with a new solution and hadn't resolved the middle east conflict. newspaper right. (laughs) >> well, i mean, i wish we could. we're all impatient at the lack of progress. but keep in the some historical perspective. this is a difficult, complex situation that's gone on for a very long time and we are making what i believe to be significant progress. >> rose: are you carrying any new ideas to the middle east next week? >> what we're going to tell them that we think the time has come to enter negotiations and that we think... we will lay out what we think is a proper basis for doing so, a time achieving agreement, a method of
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negotiating that we think will achieve the desired result. >> rose: can't you tell me what the method is, snow is it keeping it ambiguous? getting them to talk is the great advancement we need now. they're not talking to each other. >> that's right. >> rose: so the first step is to get them to talk. >> well, basically what we have suggested to the israelis is a series of steps and actions that they could take that would encourage president abbas to enter the discussions. >> rose: why can't you tell me what they are. that's my question, really. >> because i want them-to-discuss it with them before i discuss it with you. >> rose: fair enough. but it just seems like this can't be great secret, can they? or not? >> there are no magic bullets here, charlie. if you asked a hundred experts on the middle east what are the steps that might be taken... >> rose: they would al agree on most... >> they won't agree, bow you'll have different opinion bus they'll all cover the same ground. they have to do with what is occurring on the west bank, dealing with checkpoints, movement of... >> rose: and that's getting better because of prime minister
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fayyad, the palestinians? >> it's a very impressive leader. >> rose: the more he does bottom-up stuff, the more the israelis are willing to lessen the tensions at the checkpoints. >> that's part of it. to also expand the areas in which palestinians have both civil and security authority. to entable better movement of goods in those areas. to take other steps that will provide at a direct economic benefit to the people. greater freedom. to take some steps with respect to gaza. to ask the palestinians to take other steps. to ask the arabs to take other steps. we've set these all out. i want to be clear that in the steps that we've asked, we have not presented them, nor do we gard them, as ends in themselves. they are means to an end. the end is a peace agreement achieved through direct negotiations by the parties. i just described to you what we
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want to get the arab states to do with respect to regional conferences. >> rose: right. >> trade relations with israel. communications. transportation. all of... cultural and political exchanges. all of those things are among the actions that we are asking people to take. >> rose: is the arab initiative helpful? >> yes, it is. i commend the king of saudi arabia for the effort. it is a positive step in the right direction. by itself it won't be enough. it requires a negotiation and a discussion. by its very terms it requires a negotiation. it says a negotiated end to the israeli/palestinian conflict. we're trying to, in effect, fill in the space that it creates by calling for this type of agreement. >> rose: if the israelis thought that israel could live in peace
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and security, most of the israeli leaders that you know would be prepared to support a palestinian state with some variation of the '67 borders, some respe for east jerusalem and jerusalem being an international city. i'm going to what barr rack had on the table at camp david. >> but, remember, barack lost the last election. >> rose: but he's now the defense minister and he has a voice. up >> he has a very important voice and he's an outstanding leader. >> rose: and remember this. the palestinians turned it down! they turned down more than they are likely to be offered today. >> well, that's another reason for getting into negotiations right away, because the options aren't getting any better. but i don't want to speak for the israeli leadership. >> rose: i just want to make sure we understand the issue.
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the issue is security. if they thought the had security most of the israeli leadership would... >> well, charlie, jiz a vibrant democracy. dollar wide range of views among the israeli leadership and among the israeli public. under their system, they have a lot of parties. it isn't like ours, a two-party system. so they have coalitions and there are a lo of what we call single-issue parties. so you could make almost any statement on the subject... >> rose: and somebody... >> someone will support the views. so i wouldn't presume to speak for that and we are not to be critical of the fact that it's a vibrant democracy where people debate and discuss and disagree on issues. what i am saying is that i believe that a majority of the people of israel favor a two-state solution and with adequate security assurances would be prepared to move forward on that basis. that's certainly not a unanimous view, but i believe that's the majority. >> rose: on the other hand, there's not a unanimous view
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within the palestinian community... >> no. >> rose: that they think they should recognize israel or not engage in some kind of action against them. >> well, that's the principle difference between fatah and hamas. the palestinian authority, which is basically the fatah party, believes in non-violence and negotiation. hamas believes in violent resistance and the destruction of israel. and this's the difference. >> rose: is any progress being made on bringing hamas and fatah together? >> there have been extensive discussions. rose: what egyptians and everybody else. >> led by the egyptians and everybody else. they're still in some disagreement. look, we think everyone should participate. but we think they should participate based upon a commitment to democratic principles. we think that that's the way to get people moving forward. to get a commitment that we agree to peaceful negotiation, we accept and honor past agreements and we... when we reach agreement, that will be
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the end of it. now, that's incompatible with some of the claims made by some of the participants who say "our goal is the complete destruction of israel and we don't recognize prior agreements." so how do you expect to sit down and talk to someone committed to your destruction. >> rose: but if you talk long enough, you believe, people will come around and find reason to change their opinion. >> that has happened in many cases in the past and there are other cases where it did not happen. and what you have to do is to try to make rational and discerning judgments about whether or not that is possible. >> rose: here you go. george mitchell in northern ireland had no problem with talking to the i.r.a.. on the other hand... correct? >> no, it's not correct. >> rose: okay, tell me why. >> first, i never talked to the i.r.a.. >> rose: by i mean... go ahead. >> the second question was the political party affiliated with the i.r.a., sinn fein, and the same on the unionist side. keep in mind, i mentioned
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earlier negotiations in northern ireland lasted 22 months. for the first 16 months, sinn fein did not participate. not until they agreed privately to me and publicly to what became known as the mitchell principles... >> rose: sinn fein was the political arm of the i.r.a.. >> that's right. but my point is they didn't participate in the talks until 16 months after they began and only when they accepted the mitchell principles which call for a renunciation of violence, a willingness to participate through democratic means and to accept the result of the agreement and not to try to change it by force. >> rose: but you did not demand that they give up all their weapons. >> well, i got started in the process over there on the whole subject of weapons and nobody's demanding that the weapons be given up in the middle east. what i said was that they should be parallel and disarmament came later. in tend, we got a peace agreement and the disarmament
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has occurred. and that's because we had patience, we had determination, and we had a clear set of principles. and what we did was to say we want everybody there, but you have to commit yourself to abide by democratic principles. charlie, let me use an absurd example to make the case. we all agree elections are essential to democracy. but it is very important to understand that elections by themselves do not make a democracy. democracy is an ongoing obligation. if a political leader in the united states-- republican or democrat-- got elected in a completely free and fair election and then announced "i'm going create a militia, and if i don't get my by that the ngress, i'm going to feel free to use the militia." would you they's democratic, even though he got a elected or
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she got elected? >> rose: no. >> of course not. so democracy, let's be clear, is an ongoing obligation to abide by democratic principles. and to renounce the use of violence as a means of achieving your political objectives and to accept and honor prior agreements. that's what what we're asking. that's not a lot to ask. now, i think the way to do it is to get the process going. create some incentive for people to participate. that's what happened in northern ireland. there was no incentive for sinn fein or the i.r.a. or... >> rose: or they were tired of the conflict. >> they were very tired of the conflict. and on the other side you had the same situation if not a parallel because you had several smaller organizations, no one entity, but you had political parties and paramilitaries. and what we... the hard part was getting started in a process which was seen as fair and open and which began to be seen as
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having at least some prospect for success, although that was very problematic. and then people started coming in. that's what i think we need here. >> rose: you hope to accomplish this in two years. the moratorium is for ten months. >> yes. >> rose: that gives you an incentive to say to the parties what? you better get this done is we better get this done before they start... because the moratorium only allows... if settlements are important to you or the absence of settlements, you better get something done before the moratorium ends because i don't think we can get it again. >> charlie, will you come with me on my next visit and make that spiel? it made sound better coming from you. >> rose: what this conversation is isn't is what you're going over there and and what you hope to and how you... but also inside the head of somebody who's done it before. you're not without experience in this arena. there's the talk of a prisoner exchange. would that build confidence if the israelis could get hamas
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prisoner back? >> well, that will not build confidence with the palestinian authority because it will, in fact, be seen as a validation of hamas's tactics, violent resistance. it's vy important politically andmotionally in israel to obtain the release of the prison. we understand that and i think the prime minister is trying very hard to do that. >> rose: well, the egyptians have gotten involved in that, too. >> they were involved initially, the german mediator got involved. but the point, is it's an excruciatingly difficult decision because it does send the message that their violent resistance has paid off and it will lead others around the world to seek more hostages and that's one of the toughest decisions that the prime minister has to make and we accept the reality that he's got to keep making this effort. but what we think is that there should also be actions taken with respect to the palestinian
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authority which believes in peaceful negotiation and that's the approach that ought to be rewarded. >> rose: is there an incentive to do something about this in israel today? >> oh, i believe the prime minister is definitely committed on this. i believe that he wants to bring this to a conclusion. >> rose: and how much incent sieve there to do sething now because israelis look at demographics and they look at a window that may be closing on two-state solution. >> yes. i think that's a huge incentive for that and other reasons. i think there are other reasons as well, but let's take the demographics. if you count the number of arabs in israel, in gaza and in the west bank, they are about equal to the number of israelis, jewish israelis.
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and the birthrates among the palestinians and israeli arabs is rising more rapidly so the demographic lines are crossing in about 2010/twaef. that poses a serious problem for israel because if they can't get a two-state solution, they want it to be a jewish state, a position we support, but that will be difficult if they are in a minority. the second reason is technology. if there is an iron law of human history is it that weapons r rapidly disseminated and the invention of new weapons quickly spread around the world. right now what you have are rockets being disseminated. an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 rockets held by hezbollah on israel's northern border. hamas having i don't know the number but a substantial number of rockets and while the technology of particularly the hamas rockets is crude, there's
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obviously an on going campai to upgrade. >> rose: and there's an arms market out there >> >> oh, there's a huge arms market out there. the trade in arms is very, very large. not just to increase the number of rockets but to increase the guidance systems, the range, the destructive power. iran, of course, is very actively engaged in a missile program that now has... >> rose: supporting hezbollah and hamas. >> and its own direct capacity with missile that could reach israel. so there is a long-range threat posed by technology. and the final threat, which is a political one, is isolation. the best thing for israel, not just for its own security but for its dealings with other nations besides the united states is to enter into a negotiation, reach an agreement, have a comprehensive peace of the type that i just described
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earlier sch i think would go a long way toward ending the increasing isolation that has occurred in many respects unfairfully my judgment but nonetheless something that has to be dealt with. so i think leader stlip is fully aware of all of this. on the other hand, they have immediate security concerns that they have to deal with and so there's a constant balancing. >> rose: you have been a majority leader in the united states senate. you have been a district court judge, if i remember. a majority leader in the united states senate. it is said bill clinton was prepared to put you on the supreme court. >> he did. he offered the position to me. >> rose: exactly. >> and yet the is this the most challenging, the most exciting, the most interesting thing that you have done in your professional life? >> actually, that's been said about almost every job i've undertaken at the time i had the job. >> rose: harry reid would say... >> you left out steroids and major league baseball. >> rose: well, i did. but i was... >> actually, this is very difficult. it is complex.
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there's a long history here. there is... on both sides there's a sense of grievance, of victimization. there is widespread mistrust, hatred, even. and so you earlier used the phrase confidence building. i have to tell you, i think that's really an overstatement of what we're trying to achieve. it isn't so much you're going to get to the point of trust and confidence, that you're going to get to the minimum level of mistrust that makes possible action by political leaders in very difficult and hostile circumstances. let me tell you, charlie, it takes a lot of courage for these political leaders to operate in these circumstances. i saw that firsthand in northern ireland. i see it firsthand now. there are direct threats against them personally, their families. >> rose: on both sides. >> on all sides. these men and women bh who serve in these leadership positions take enormous political risk. they take a lot of abuse.
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we understand that in politics... >> rose: and they're not in control of circumstances so they may make an initiative and all of a sudden somebody decides to turn it against them and they lose the support at home. >> the slightest concession is seen as weakness. of caving in. of the lack of conviction. these are not easy situations to deal with. so i guess i'm... it may sound naive and silly, but i admire the men and women who take these leadership positions because of the courage they display and what they're doing even as they often fail to do what i think necessary in the circumstances. >> rose: but even though the discussion, i would argue, has not changed much. most people they the outlines of the settlement are the same and that most... the arguments have been essentially the same, have they snot. >> that's what makes it frustrating, charlie. that's what makes it frustrating. >> rose: does this make it frustrating? do you have... you have lots of carrots. do you have any sticks. >> oh, sure. >> rose: what? >> well, both sides... >> rose: other than saying
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"good-bye, take care of yourself we're out of here." >> well, both sides make the same argument to me in reverse. that the real problem, they say, is you haven't pressured the other side. >> rose: yeah, exactly. >> cut them off, tell them you won't help them anymore, you won't do anything, we'll walk away. i say, would you like us to do that to you? oh, no, but you should do it to the other side. the reality is that, yes, of course the united states has both carrots and sticks. you have to be very careful about how and when you use them. >> rose: when was the last time we used a stick? >> afghanistan. >> rose: oh, i know, but nobody's talking about the united states troops going in. they're not. i mean, give me an example. i'm serious about this. you sit there and you say to israel, look, if you don't do this... what? >> under american law, the united states can withhold support on loan guarantees to israel. president george w. bush did so. >> rose: exactly. >> on one occasion. >> rose: and his father.
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>> well, the law that... the most recent president bush acted under wasn't in place at the time of the first president bush. so there were different mechanisms. that's one mechanism that's been publicly discussed. there are others. and you have to keep open whatever options. but our view is that we think the way to approach this is to try to persuade the parties what is in their self-interest. and we think that we are making some flog that regard and we're going to continue in that effort and we think the way to do it is to get them into negotiations. >> rose: is there much of a perception that we... do you have a hard time with the perception on the one hand that we are not an innocent broker? >> oh, i hear it a lot, but i don't believe it to be true. >> rose: do you have to speak to it? >> oh, sure, yes, i do. regularly. here in the united states, in europe, and in the middle east. that assertion is based on the
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assumption that the united states cannot at the same time be totally committed to israel's security-- which we are-- and be totally committed to the creation of the palestinian state-- which we are. and i believe that those are not mutually exclusive. to the contrary, i believe they are mutually reinforcing. it will help israel get security for its people if the palestinians have a state and this issue is over. >> rose: but that's a harder cell. you've got to convince name having a palestinian state and making concessions and taking some risks far is the best way to achieve the security... >> long-term security. and on the other hand, for the palestinians it is that you're not going to get a state unt the israelis have a reasonable and sustainable sense of security. now, charlie, what i've found-- not just in the middle east, i found in in northern ireland. when i take positions that agree
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with their pre-conceived motions they tend to think i'm very smart and they like me. >> rose: and non-biased. >> and when i take positions that don't have to coincide with their views, i'm not so smart. >> rose: you take positions in these negotiations? >> oh, of course i do. of course i do. i participate actively. >> rose: in terms of taking positions. why is president obama's popularity so low in israel? it's 4%. >> no, that's completely false. >> rose: have you heard that before? >> i've heard the figure and you're citing a commonly cited public figure. >> rose: exactly. so tell me why that's wrong. >> because it's simply not true. several polls that i've seen in the past month show that he is... i'll give you the numbers. 49% favorable, 45% unfavorable. 43% favorable, 37% unfavorable. it's a reasonable number. but a plurality support him in israel and a smaller plurality
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oppose him. >> rose: i don't understand how his approach is different from the previous president, the previous president, the previous president. >> well, i just cited one way, he started two days... >> rose: okay, i got that. agree. he got in early. i got that. jup >> secondly, he went to cairo and gave an historic speech. that's another way that it's different. thirdly, a full-time envoy working on it. i don't want to say 24/7 because it's not quite that. but it's a figure of speech. working at it full time. participating with... >> rose: but all this has to do with involvement and engagement, it doesn't have to do with different ideas, does it? or different positions or different anything. >> well, charlie, it's different in the sense that it evolves over time. but if you're saying that look, we've been drinking water all this time and haven't come up with a new liquid, just think how long the world's been drinking water. and why haven't we come up with a new liquid that does the job? that's the stuff... >> rose: maybe what i'm saying
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is it's not a question of new ideas, it's a question of very skillful negotiations that have to take place in order to get people to come in without pre-conditions and to take a chance and take... and risk for a longer term solution. >> i don't... by... i don't want to rule out new ideas in the sense that we don't suggest new approaches. approaches that at one time and circumstance might not be appropriate but at another par r. policies change with circumstances: we're constantly updated our thinking. when i meet the... i'll be meeting in the next week with egyptians. >> rose: the war net brussels? >> yes, in brussels. i'll be meeting with israelis, palestinians in the here in future. we constantly make suggestions on h the do this. here's the best way. if you do a, b, c, and they do d e, f, will you be able to get
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together? so far we haven't found the right fit thaten co-insides. one of the things i learned in northern ireland is the old saying timing is everything in life. what constantly happens is when one side is ready, the other side is not. and by the t time the other side gets ready, these guys are not. and what we have to do is find the formula that gets them both ready at the same time. on all of these fronts i want to emphasize political negotiations security for both people and what you call the bottom-up-- correctly-- economic and institutional growth so that when the palestinian state is created it is capable of functioning effectively in day one. i think that's a very important factor and i'll close with this. i mentioned earlier... we haven't even talked about implementation. in northern ireland it took three sets of discussions, five years that i was there before we got an agreement. it's sense then been 12 years and the agreement still has not been fully implemented.
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difficult as it is to get people to agree do the right thing, it's far more difficult to get them to actually to do it after they agree do it. so the real key here is to reach an agreement that is solid built on a foundation that that extremely difficult process of implement station afterward can work and will succeed. that's why the united states involvement is so important. there is no entity on the face of this earth other than the united states government public or private entity, that can create the context within which an agreement is possible and, most importantly, can ensure to the extent humanly possible that full implementation will occur. and that requires a president and a secretary of state who are committed and determined and believe me we have them now. >> rose: thank you for coming. i know you have not done many interviews, so i thank you for
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taking time here this evening. >> charles, tharlly, always a pleasure. >> rose: former senator george mitchell, former judge george mitchell, lawyer george mitchell now envoy to one of the most crucial areas in the world. thank you for sharing this time with us. we'll see you tomorrow night. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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